Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

Cheese, Wine, Fun, and Harry Potter

I don't know why it's been taking me so long to readjust mentally after my sudden big intense trip to Australia last month. I've been throwing myself back into my regular life: Working hard at the project for which I went overseas to gather notes, hanging out at the Eagle where flirtation still abounds, spending a bit of social time with friends. Maybe it's just that it's been so hot that sluggishness rather than homeyness is the order of the day. Mayabe it's just that Morris season is over so there is no external schedule other than work.

In any case, as of last night, I officially feel as if I'm back. Perhaps it's because now that my friend Douglas has gone away and returned, bearing cheese, I can't claim to be just back, the way a child can no longer be "the baby" after a younger sibling is born. But I think it's more that last night reminded me that yes, I live here, and yes, I'm home. It was just a fun and easy warm summer evening with folks I know well. Even deighvid18, now a rising senior at Carlton College, was able to make it and establish with certainty that he is now the tallest Braggart (he was close to that even in high school, back when he danced with us regularly).

Douglas had been in the Netherlands for only the final day-and-a-half of his trip, and he spent a good chunk of that time going to the cheese market in Gouda. He brought back a raw milk cheese, a goat milk cheese, a high-butterfat cheese, and two hard crumbly cheeses impregnated with herbs (cumin? cloves? some other things as well). He set out grapes and cherries and crackers and bruschetta and we indulged our tongues. The Kunde Estate Cabernet was really right for the cheeses, so much so that when we finished it off (I probably drank half the bottle myself and plan to buy more) the Shiraz seemed too peppery and simple in contrast. No matter, because Bob W. had arrived with some friends visiting from England and his twin boys and some unusual Dutch alcohol (I wish I'd written down what it was) that he brought out from his esoteric collection.

The thing is, the cheese and wine and snacks and other beverages, much-discussed as they were, did not turn out to be the entire focus of the evening. Instead, as ought to happen, they provided the background and social lubrication for what was just a very nice party. "We should get together more often and not dance," said Douglas at the end of the evening. "Funny, I was thinking that we should have danced tonight," I replied.

Anna Bean was there, lost in one of the later Harry Potter books. Bob's twins Lolo and Smack, it turns out, know the Harry Potter mythology as well, so I sang them a bit of the "Train to Hogwarts" song we made up the night we danced at a Harry Potter book release party last year. The boys liked this, and Smack asked me if I'd really written it. Yup, I said. So then Lolo and Smack and Anna started asking me to write verses about other aspects of Harry Potter. "Sing a verse about Gryffindor" said Smack, which started the sorting hat verses, like this one:

The sorting hat wears a great big grin
The sorting hat wears a great big grin
When it sends me off to Slytherin
When I arrive at Hogwarts

At which point Lolo and Smack and Anna started fake-screaming in terror about being sent to Slytherin.

Yes, there are verses about Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff and Gryffindor (much cheering all around on this one). They are terrible, but fun to sing anyway. ("The sorting hat really knows its stuff...").

Anna wanted me to sing about potions, which seems a bit abstract and off the wall as a major topic but very much an Anna sort of concern. I couldn't come up with anything on the spot, but I'll be seeing Anna again tonight so I plan to greet her with:

I'll climb the mountains and I'll swim the oceans
I'll climb the mountains and I'll swim the oceans
To find all the crap that I need for potions
When I arrive at Hogwarts

Tonight one of Bob's guests, the amazing British singer Johnny Collins, will be performing a house concert in Bob's basement, which we consider a pub and which is known as "The Land of Liberty Peace and Plenty" (the actual name of a local pub in the London suburb where Bob and his family lived for a while). So it should be another fine evening, drinking Bob's homebrew.

So yeah, I'm home.
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